If you’re on a budget, or finding a suitable sleeping mat for kitting out a child for a Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) then you’ll realise that sleeping mats come in all sizes and prices. But do you really need to spend £50 for a mat that’s both reasonably light and comfy or can you get that for under £20? Dave Roberts finds out in this review of the Vango Trek Short Sleeping Mat.
The cheapest and easiest way to reduce the weight of any item is just to make it smaller. That’s what Vango have done with this sleeping mat, reducing the length of the mat, weight and price in one go. As a result, it means you don’t have any padding below your knees. You can rest your feet on your rucksack if you need that extra insulation, but we found that if you’re using a sleeping bag that’s suited to the conditions then we didn’t feel the cold. It also gave me a comfortable enough night’s sleep, and I’m fussy!
Don’t get fooled by the fact it’s self-inflating, it doesn’t magically inflate ready for sleeping! None of the traditional self-inflating mats do that, referring instead to the fact that they pull in most of the air needed automatically, but requiring a few hefty puffs to finish the job.
Compared to something like a Therm-a-rest, then this is around a third of the price but twice the weight of the Therm-a-rest Prolite (£72.99 and 330g) , or maybe a fairer comparison would be to the Alpkit Airo 120 which is twice the price and around a third of the weight (£35 and 450g). We think that this differentiates these different products, with the Vango Trek 3 beign aimed towards those looking for a bargain, or looking for a sleeping mat for DofE expeditions. While foam mats are cheaper and lighter still, they’re strictly for those used to sleeping on slate floors, chewing gravel and who eat lifeboat rations for fun.
While we’ve not really used this long enough for it to fail, we expect that Vango being Vango, this will be sturdy enough for a few year’s use. We’ve had everything from Alpkit Airic to more expensive sleeping mats fail on us far sooner than we’d have liked, so our expectations aren’t particularly high!
While we’ve mentioned it isn’t the lightest sleeping mat, it’s reasonably compact once in the provided stuff sac. Like just about everything else about this sleeping mat, it’s not spectacular at anything, just a bargain. I think this is ideal for DofE as it’s not overly bulky like foam mats, and as a result means you don’t need such a huge back pack.
We think that for £18, this is a bargain for both budget conscious wild campers and kitting out for a DofE expedition. You won’t be getting the lightest, most cutting edge kit out there but you will be bagging yourself an absolute bargain!